Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr is asking for $2.128 billion in school funding for fiscal year 2013, a 2 percent increase over the previous year.
Starr outlined his budget request before hundreds of people Wednesday night at a presentation at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, saying the increase in funds is necessary to handle MCPS's growing enrollment.
The requested 2 percent is the smallest increase an MCPS superintendent has asked for in 12 years, Starr said, and most of that $41.4 million would go toward handling enrollment growth, covering employee benefits and purchasing materials.
Starr said he intends to focus on professional development, interventions for struggling students and community engagement in the coming year. He is not requesting additional funds for those areas, looking instead to maximize what MCPS gets out of their current allotments, he said.
"Our values don't change," Starr said. "Our core purpose doesn't change. What we do to get there, however, will."
Starr's budget also includes $8.1 million in cuts throughout MCPS, including the elimination of 18 central office positions and six transportation jobs. He is not recommending any cuts to school-based staff.
Included in Starr's request is an extra $8 million for employee compensation, which he said is needed after staff has forgone cost-of-living and step increases for the past few years.
"We have to start compensating our employees at a level that makes them understand their value," he said, eliciting applause from the staff-heavy crowd.
Now that Starr has submitted his budget to the Board of Education, the process will continue on the following timeline:
- Jan. 11 and 18: The Board of Education will hold public hearings on the recommendation
- Jan. 25 and 26: The board will conduct a work session on Starr's budget
- Feb. 14: The board will vote on the budget
- March 6: The board will present its request to County Executive Isiah Leggett
After that, Leggett will issue his operating budget to the County Council, which will discuss and vote on the issue in the spring and early summer.
Shirley Brandman, newly elected President of the Board of Education, said the board looks forward to hearing from members of the community as it reviews the budget.
"The Board of Education will take great care to balance the fiscal realities of our time with the needs of our students," she said.
The Montgomery County Coalition of PTAs has endorsed Starr's recommendation, and Kristen Trible, the organization's president, said in a statement that the superintendent's budget expands worthy programs without trimming classroom funds.